Purses vs. Handbags: How Are They Different?

The question of what to call a lady's carry-all is one that every woman has pondered at some point in her life. When it comes to purses and handbags, people think that they are the same thing insofar that they are meant for carrying things.

However, they are different in some ways.

I'm sure that it has been said before that a "purse" is short for "pocketbook". It is a small bag or wallet that can be carried around in one's hands or arms.

The term "handbag" on the other hand comes from the idea of carrying items like gloves and other accessories in one's hands.

These days, however, the distinction between purses and handbags has become more blurred as they're often used interchangeably.

Some people will use the terms to describe bags with different functions. Others may simply refer to any bag worn across their body as a purse or handbag.

Through this article though, we're here to set the record straight. Let's explore purses and handbags, and how they are different from one another.

How Are Purses and Handbags Different?


One of the main differences between purses and handbags is their size. A purse typically has a smaller footprint while a handbag is larger in comparison to its other counterparts.

Purses are usually bigger than your average clutch, but they are still small enough to be held by one's arm or carried around in their hands.

Handbags, on the other hand, are much bigger and can only be carried by hand. They usually have long straps so they can be worn across the body.


Purses also differ in terms of shape. A purse is usually more squared off as opposed to a handbag which is more rounded.

This is because of what the shape of a purse is designed to hold. People carry their wallets, smartphones and other personal items in their pockets or purses that need to fit into its designated space as well as be easy to retrieve.

On the other hand, bags like handbags are able to be round without any real functional purpose because they are meant to carry larger items. Things like tablets, magazines and sunglasses can fit comfortably inside a rounded handbag without taking up too much space.


The way that a purse and handbag opens is also different from one another. A purse typically has a top flap that covers the opening.

Sometimes it opens up in a "U" shape so that the contents are easily accessible. Other times, the top flap is secured with closures like zippers or snap buttons to keep everything secure inside without any risk of spills or loss of belongings.

Handbags on the other hand typically open outwards like a book cover. They also may have snap closures, zipper enclosures and other similar fastenings.

The one thing that makes them different from purses is the fact that there are no flaps covering the opening. This allows women to quickly see all of their items without having to fumble around or dig through a bunch of pockets and compartments trying to find the right thing.


Speaking of pockets and compartments, this is one of the key areas where purses and handbags differ in terms of functionality. Purses typically have more than one pocket on the outside as well as a few slots inside for holding small items like credit cards, cash or ID cards.

They also usually have a designated place for holding a smartphone. Handbags, on the other hand, do not typically have any extra pockets on the exterior. This is because they are meant to be more all-in-one bags.

Inside, handbags usually have multiple compartments for organizing different items as well as a zip or snap enclosure for holding bulkier objects.

They also have a designated area for holding larger items, like tablets or folders. The only time when purses would have multiple compartments is if they are being used as purses instead of purses that are meant to be carried along with handbags.

When Should You Use Purses vs Handbags?

Purses are typically the choice of bag when it comes to carrying small personal items during the day. They're easy to carry around without any hassle and can still keep all of your things organized in one place making them easier to find when you need them.

For instance, purses are preferable when going out to an event where you'll be taking pictures or standing in a crowded area for a long period of time. They allow women to easily access their money, keys and phone without having to worry about pulling out their handbag from underneath them or putting it on the ground.

In contrast, purses are not really meant for carrying bulky items like laptops or textbooks around because they simply do not have enough space to store those kinds of things. This is where handbags come in.

Plus, purses also can't hold anything that is too heavy as well since the straps would snap pretty quickly under the pressure.

Never Be Confused Again

If you’re still not sure what the difference is, think about it this way. A purse can hold all of your essentials - phone charger, wallet, and lipstick, while a handbag just offers more space for extra items that you don’t need on an everyday basis.

The two are interchangeable in some cases but each has its own purpose and function too!

The most important choice you can make when you select a purse or handbag is not whether it's a purse vs handbag, but whether the purse/handbag meet your needs. POPSEWING prides itself on offering high-quality leather purse and handbag kits in all kinds of fashion styles. Each purse and handbag leather kit are crafted with care to help creating an end bag that looks amazing.

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